Illinois Anti-Bullying Laws

What is Bullying?

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems. In order to be considered bullying the behavior must be aggressive and include an imbalance of power and repetition.

  • Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
  • Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.

Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.

Illinois Anti-Bullying Laws & Policies

Bullying has become a major problem, with many cases of children becoming withdraw, depressed, anxious and afraid. Many parents of bullied children have also had to deal with the extreme result of suicide as a result of constant bullying. Illinois has protections in place for victims of bullying. These laws cover:

  • bullying
  • harassment
  • intimidation

and also cover cyberbullying. These are serious actions with serious consequences.

Illinois anti-bullying laws and regulations protect bullying on the basis of the following:

  • race
  • color
  • religion
  • sex
  • national origin
  • ancestry
  • age
  • marital status
  • physical or mental disability
  • military status
  • sexual orientation
  • gender-related identity or expression
  • unfavorable discharge from military service
  • association with a person or group with one or more of the aforementioned actual or perceived characteristics
  • any other distinguishing characteristic

For school related bullying – schools that receive federal funding are required by federal law to address discrimination on a number of different personal characteristics. Bullying may be a civil rights violation. There are several laws and regulations that cover bullying in Illinois.

However, confronting schools may not be your best option if you really want to squash bullying. Sometimes the quickest solution is to have an attorney confront the parents of the bullies. Parents can be held liable for the bullying actions of their children.

If your child is a victim of bullying, we can help. Contact us for a free initial consultation.

What is Assault?

720 ILCS 5/12-1

Sec. 12-1. Assault. (a) A person commits an assault when, without lawful authority, he or she knowingly engages in conduct which places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery.

Assault in Illinois is intentional conduct that reasonably causes a person to feel afraid of impending violence. Advancing on someone with clenched or raised fists is an assault.

Examples of Assaults include, but are not limited to:

  • causing someone to fear imminent physical harm (advancing with raised fists in a threatening manner)
  • throwing a punch but missing the target
  • attempting to spit on the victim
  • pointing a gun at the victim, regardless of whether it is loaded or not, knowingly causing a fear of actual harm

What is Battery?

720 ILCS 5/12-3

(a) A person commits battery if he or she knowingly without legal justification by any means (1) causes bodily harm to an individual or (2) makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with an individual. (b) Sentence. Battery is a Class A misdemeanor.

Hitting, spitting, or otherwise making unwanted physical touching or contact with someone is a Battery.

Examples of Battery include, but are not limited to:

  • insulting or provoking physical contact, such as pushing another person, or
  • intentionally causing bodily harm to another, such as
  • hitting and injuring someone with a fist or an object.
  • grabbing and ripping someone’s clothing in anger. This is considered a touching because the clothing is an extension of the person.

What is harassment?

Illinois criminal law defines harassment as intentional acts which can cause someone to be worried, anxious, or uncomfortable. Harassment can be verbal, visual or physical.

A variety of forms of harassment are illegal in Illinois, including verbal harassment, up-skirt photos, indecent exposure, following, and groping. Actions may also include making an obscene or indecent comment or request with the intent to offend, threaten, or annoy someone.

Examples of Harassment include, but are not limited to:

  • Unwarranted or unwelcome physical touch such as rubbing, touching or hugging
  • sexual or offensive comments
  • sending inappropriate texts, memos, images, etc that are sexual or crude in nature
  • sexual innuendos in conversation
  • name calling, offensive nicknames or slurs
  • bullying

What is Free Speech?

While free speech is protected by the First Amendment, profanity and certain types of speech can be non-protected at times – for example, fighting words, or profane rants that cross the line into direct face-to-face personal insults are not protected by the First Amendment.

What is Cyberbullying?

(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/12-7.5.) (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/12-7.5.) Someone who harasses another through electronic communications may be guilty of the crime of Cyberbullying or Cyberstalking in Illinois. In Illinois, someone who uses an electronic device to harass another on at least two separate occasions  and causes alarm, torment or terror to that person, commits the crime of cyberstalking. It is a class 4 felony under Illinois law to use an electronic communication to cause a person to fear for his or safety or the safety of a third person, to engage in conduct that causes the target to suffer emotional distress, to make harassing statements against the target or communicate a threat of immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault or confinement to the target or a family member. The two or more acts may include surveillance, threats, and/or harassing statements.

Penalties for Assault, Battery, Harassment, Cyberbullying

Penalties for assault and battery in Illinois can range from imprisonment from 30 days to a year or more, and/or fines of $1500 and more, probation and restitution. Simple assault and battery are misdemeanors in Illinois. More serious acts of assault and battery, such as assault with a deadly weapon or a battery that causes serious physical injury to the victim (more than bruising or scrapes), are considered aggravated assault and battery and are felony offenses. The police may issue a restraining order against a person suspected of having committed a gross crime against your person or who has repeatedly invaded your privacy by stalking you, pestering you with unwanted contact or vandalizing your belongings/property. Cyberstalking is a Class 4 felony in Illinois that imposes consequences such as imprisonment of 1 year or more, fines of up to $25,000, or both. (730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § § 5/5-4.5-45, 5/5-4.5-50.)

Illinois Schools and Bullying Laws

In Illinois, every public school district and each non-sectarian private elementary and secondary school must adopt and enforce an anti-bullying policy that prohibits bullying at school. This includes bullying through use of computers or other electronic communication devices. (105 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/27-23.7.) Schools have to inform students and their parents or guardians of the policies annually.

If you have a child who is experiencing bullying or harassing behavior, we can help.

Learn More About Harassment Laws in Illionis